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Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Musikpädagogik

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Hargreaves remark on the development of "open-earedness" after which the impartiality, openness and curiosity of children to unknown or unusual musical styles decreases with increasing age has been verified since 2001 in a series of studies. For their studies with elementary school children, Gembris and Schellberg developed a sounding questionnaire with 8 music examples of different styles which were heard in the classroom and rated by each child in terms of pleasure on a smiley-scale (Gembris & Schellberg 2007). Open-earedness should show as the consent or at least neutral assessment of examples that were unusual for the children. The results showed that the pop-examples were generally rated best, while, with increasing age, the other styles experienced increasing rejection, so that Hargreaves was considered confirmed. Follow-up studies used different evaluation methods (eg Kopiez & Lehmann 2008), or focused on the interference between declining open-earedness and string class education (Louven 2011), but always retained the research design and some of the music examples. This basic design has been discussed controversially. The problem that the questionnaires asked for a preference judgement while the conclusion rated the openness to the style of music was at the core of the criticism. There is, however, a difference between liking a piece of music and being curious and willing to deal with it - even if one does not like it immediately. It is therefore more likely for open-earedness to show in the readiness to listen to music of any kind over an extended period of time and on a self-determined basis. Based on these considerations, the programme OpenEar as a new methodological approach to the diagnosis of Open-Earedness was developed at the University of Osnabrueck.




Louven, Christoph: "Offene Ohren für Klassisches bewahren. Eine Langzeitstudie zu den Auswirkungen des Klassenmusizierens auf den Musikgeschmack" (Neue Musikzeitung 4/2010) Download

Louven, Christoph: Mehrjähriges Klassenmusizieren und seine Auswirkungen auf die "Offenohrigkeit" bei Grundschulkindern. Eine Langzeitstudie (Diskussion Musikpädagogik 50, 2011, S. 48-59) Download

Louven, Christoph & Ritter, Aileen: Hördauer statt Präferenz - Ein computergestützter Untersuchungsansatz zu Hargreaves' "Offenohrigkeit" (Abstract zur DGM-Tagung Osnabrück 2011) Download 

Louven, Christoph & Ritter, Aileen: Hargreaves' "Offenohrigkeit" - Ein neues, softwarebasiertes Forschungsdesign. in: Knigge, Jens [Hrsg.]; Niessen, Anne [Hrsg.]: Musikpädagogisches Handeln. Begriffe, Erscheinungsformen, politische Dimensionen. Essen: Die Blaue Eule 2012, S. 275-299. - (Musikpädagogische Forschung; 33) Download

Louven, C. (2014): ‚Offenohrigkeit‘ – Von der Notwendigkeit eines Paradigmenwechsels bei der Erforschung von musikalischer Toleranz und Neugier. Jahrbuch Musikpsychologie, 24 (Offenohrigkeit - ein Postulat im Fokus), 45-58. 

Louven, Christoph (2016): Hargreaves’ ‘open-earedness’ – A critical discussion and new approach on the concept of musical tolerance and curiosity. Musicae Scientiae.  Access on Journal Page


OpenEar is a software for presenting computer-aided sounding questionnaires that was designed at the University of Osnabrück. The programme can both collect the voluntary listening duration and the preference ratings of each user and calculate/determine the value of the Osnabrueck Open-Earedness Index (OOI). The music samples can be chosen ad lib while the programme sequence can be regulated flexibly using multifarious adjustable parameters. Hence, OpenEar can also be utilized as universal tool for sounding questionnaires within in the framework of musico-psychological and musico-pedagogical tasks. OpenEar runs in English, German, and Spanish localization.  

OpenEar runs on following systems: 

  • macOS X 10.10.5 or later (also macOS 10.15 'Catalina'));
  • Windows 7 SP 1 or later (32 or 64 bit);

Since version 1.10.0 it’s no longer necessary to install Apple’s ‚Quicktime‘ on Windows machines to run OpenEar. 

Current Version: 1.11 (3/31/2020)


  • From this version on, OpenEar for macOS is a 64-bit application and thus executable from MacOS 10.10.5 'Yosemite' or newer (also macOS 10.15.x 'Catalina') 

    • Support of high-resolution 4K and 5K display resolutions
    • Correction of a bug in the database editor that prevented individual music samples from being deleted from the database.  
    • General code optimization

This Demo-Version is limited to 3 music examples. For acces to the full version, please contact christoph.louven@uni-osnabrueck.

To install the licence file, copy it into the same (!) directory as the OpenEar programme itself. The next time OpenEar is started, the licence should be recognised automatically. If the licence is still not recognised, this is usually due to security settings of the operating system, especially with newer macOS versions from 10.15 ('Catalina').

In this case, try the following solution:

  • Open the system settings of macOS, settings area 'Security & Privacy'.
  • Unlock the settings by clicking on the lock symbol at the bottom left of the settings window.
  • Navigate to the settings for 'Full Disk Access'.
  • IMPORTANT: If there is already an entry for OpenEar, first delete it from the list by clicking on '-'. (The existing entry then usually refers to an old programme version and prevents the current version from gaining the necessary access).
  • Add a new entry by clicking on '+' and select the current OpenEar installation. 
  • Close the system settings.